Keeping Up With ISIS

Where's ISIS today? While the U.S. is focused on Erbil, ISIS as usual has been a step ahead. For an ongoing chronology of today's military action, check out Memlik Pasha, Mark and Charles Lister (Brookings.) For translations of ISIS releases, check out AbuUmarAlAnsari and ISISNews3. For official ISIS releases from the 13 or so various provinces, click on the "follow" link for any one of them -- they only follow each other. They post links to their text and photo releases on justpaste.it. [More...]

First, some MSM news. According to the Wall St Journal, U.S. officials claim the air strikes are having an effect on ISIS in Erbil, and will slow them down.

"ISIS is starting to realize there are consequences to using heavy artillery and equipment near Erbil," said one senior U.S. defense official. "It's going to slow them down and give the Pesh time to fortify lines with supplies they're getting from [the Iraqi military] and from the U.S."

While the strikes may have stopped ISIS from entering Erbil, they haven't slowed ISIS down or stopped them from advancing elsewhere, even despite the reported loss of a few towns to the Peshmerga.

Also, they are accumulating weaponry at an ever increasing pace. Check out tanks and heavy weapons they took in their recent siege on the Brigade 93 army base in Raqqa, Syria. Here's their video tour (no violent images.) Here's the photos of them planning and carrying out the siege (again, no violent images.) They got at least 20 tanks (they say 40), 5 Howitzers, and more. This set of photos has more images of the weapons seized, but it also has some dead bodies.)

Today ISIS attacked the Kuweiris military airport in Aleppo, Syria. A few official ISIS photos are here. There are reports ISIS destroyed one of the bridges between Erbil and Mosul, near Eski Khazir, and rigged the other bridge with IEDs to prevent the advance of the Kurds. They fought today in Jalawla (Diyala) and claim they took control. CNN confirms. Rûdaw Media Network in Erbil tweeted out "For those who asking about #Jalawla conflicts and losing ground... Infos must not be publish right now." An hour earlier it claimed the peshmerga were in control.

More reports on today: ISIS was advanced in Awenat, south of Tikrit. They are also advancing to Mukayshfah, 25km north of Samarra. And they struck a police and military building in Kirkuk.

Republicans want to step up the war against ISIS to prevent it from attacking here. Why do Republicans get everything as*-backwards? ISIS has no intention of launching or ordering attacks in the U.S., unless we attack them. Do they just listen to the chatter of ISIS fanboys on Twitter who don't speak for ISIS and are sitting behind computers in other parts of the world? (I won't be surprised if the latest hashtag being used to warn the U.S. of the horrors it will face if it engages ISIS, and the "calamity" tag that preceded it, were started by the U.S. intelligence agencies as a trap -- an easy way to identify the IP addresses and twitter accounts of ISIS supporters and potential ISIS recruits, to add them to a database and keep track of them.)

There is no question ISIS is a huge threat to the Middle East. Or that it commits acts globally viewed as horrific. It wants to rule the Muslim world, and it's their way or the graveyard. Our airstrikes may not accomplish much, but they were only intended to do two things: Assist in a humanitarian effort to save the Yazidis on the mountain and stop ISIS from entering Erbil where U.S. oil companies have big interests and personnel.

Calls for the U.S. to leapfrog from airstrikes for these limited purposes to sending troops to fight a war against ISIS in Iraq or Syria should be soundly rejected by the Obama administration. We don't need to lose American lives or fund another bottomless pit. Nor should we fund or train whichever rebel group we think is on our side right now. While the group may be our current flavor of the month, next month it will probably be with ISIS.

ISIS is Iraq's problem. ISIS has not indicated it plans to attack the U.S. and the only thing that will change that is if we attack them. Even if it does not react immediately, some lone wolf will take revenge on its behalf. Our intervention could also make ISIS stronger. As soon as the U.S. causes any civilian loss in a war against ISIS, which is inevitable, ISIS will get a windfall of support from other groups who have thus far resisted joining them, becoming even more powerful.

Everyone can agree ISIS is a horrific threat to the Middle East and debate the political reasons for it. That's where it should end -- with debate, not war.

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    Hillary Clinton is also (none / 0) (#1)
    by Green26 on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 05:40:25 PM EST
    saying that the US needs to address ISIS expansion, Obama failed to address the situation earlier in Iraq and has allowed ISIS to get organized or grow, and ISIS is a future threat to the West and the US. It's not just Republicans suggesting that Obama's approach is too narrow, and saying his narrow approach won't stop ISIS. This same comment and a link regarding Hillary's recent views was put in the Saturday open thread earlier today. I believe she did an interview with Atlantic magazine.

    Obama is saying that if the Iraqi government picks an inclusive leader and the various main factions come together and cooperate, they can stop ISIS. That makes no sense to me.

    Syria, not Iraq (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 07:31:41 PM EST
    She criticized his Syria policy

    Talking to the Atlantic monthly, Clinton used harsh words to describe the failure that resulted from Obama's decision to stay on the sidelines during the first phase of the Syrian conflict in which the opposition has been trying to topple President Bashar al- Assad.

    Glad you're around to catch (none / 0) (#8)
    by Green26 on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 07:55:40 PM EST
    my mistakes. Thx.

    It makes all the sense in the world (1.00 / 1) (#2)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 06:10:45 PM EST
    if you understand that Obama doesn't want to get involved.

    He will use any and all excuses.


    After his predecessor's blunders... (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by unitron on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 07:07:37 PM EST
    ...I can understand his reluctance to get into another ground war in the Middle East.

    Which doesn't mean that he won't if he does wind up deeming it necessary.


    It makes sense to me that if the Iraqi (none / 0) (#13)
    by ruffian on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 09:30:09 AM EST
    government was unified, the Iraqi military forces might become more unified also, and be better able to fight ISIS.

    Of course those seem like two nearly impossible "ifs and mights" at the moment. Clearly Obama is hoping for the best there.


    Based on his recent address of the ISIS (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 10:03:29 AM EST
    Issue, he keeps waving at "moderate fighters".  I know that Republicans like to accuse this President of groveling, but he has more than a hunch or strong suspicion if he keeps talking at these moderates.

    Bet you anything we have intercepted in-fighting within the ISIS organization and a healthy group of moderates exist within ISIS.  He hopes to bring them to the Iraq negotiating table.  This also probably means the crazies will be turned in or turned over to some authority in the end.


    I was jsut about to post this (none / 0) (#16)
    by ruffian on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 10:40:51 AM EST
    commentary a TPM reader.... I have no way of knowing if his expertise is as he claims, but this analysis does not seem to indicate a high likelihood of there being ISIS moderates.

    Hmmm, bad link... (none / 0) (#17)
    by ruffian on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 10:42:27 AM EST
    Spoken like an intel analyst (none / 0) (#18)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 11:25:20 AM EST
    Focus on equipment capabilities and fight strategy, but short on overall reality.  He does not acknowledge that the majority of those standing with ISIS at the moment would not continue this bloodbath until his closing paragraph.  Then he says something really goofy like a couple drones, or a B-1 bomber would break the back of ISIS.  That is where he does acknowledge that the old timers, the combat entrenched, run this bloodbath.  But my husband says he's just a touch loopy in his assessment of how easy it would be wipeout the leadership in one simple blow.

    He disses the Iraqi people in General for being peaceful people.  And that is because he spends his life fighting, that pays his bills, that has kept him alive.

    My husband says he has never known such smack talkers.  They will say and threaten each other with the most vile threats, hair curling, but when the first blood is drawn everyone there says, "Oops, $hit just got real, going home now."  Is this a bad thing culturally?  I don't know, SYG sure has drawbacks too, but it makes them very susceptible to bullies...people who use severed heads for soccer balls in front of you.

    So anybody standing with ISIS gagging at all the blood, they don't have what Americanos would call spine.  The Kurds will fight ISIS if we back them, that is a given.  George H.W. Bush let Iraqis down though once when he told them he had their back.  That's going to be difficult to overcome but Americans were in Iraq for so long recently there is the possibility of a different perception.

    I think we must do the next right thing and keep reaching out to the mostly peaceful but ISIS intimidated.  My husband says he has no faith in the next generation of Iraq government.  He thinks they will also reveal themselves to be bullies too.  Bullies aspire in Iraq now, the intellectuals have all been killed.  He has a very dismal outlook, I have hope :)


    I'm sure they wouldn't mind attacking us... (none / 0) (#4)
    by unitron on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 07:09:56 PM EST
    ...the thing to keep an eye on is their capability to do so.

    If they're making money by selling oil... (none / 0) (#5)
    by unitron on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 07:10:47 PM EST
    ...how is the oil getting from point A to point B, and why isn't someone intercepting it?

    Still the Mystery (none / 0) (#7)
    by RickyJim on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 07:52:16 PM EST
    How could this group be so successful in the Sunni world without the assistance of a state sponsor?  While apparently a majority of Sunni's would like a Pope or Dalai Lama type caliph, there is not that much support for the ISIS version.  I hope that we will be seeing some sort of polling soon to get an idea of how much grass roots support they really do have.

    Airstrikes have opened a route (none / 0) (#9)
    by Green26 on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 08:22:09 PM EST
    off the mountain for some. An estimated 30,000 have made it. Many remain, including the old, sick and weak.

    "Haji Qassem Ahmed, 29, left without his elderly parents, his wife and his baby daughter, who was born on the mountain three days ago because they were too weak to leave. "Tell America to help them," he begged, an appeal repeated over and over by those with relatives still on the mountain."

    Truly heartbreaking.

    Why don't we have an internet channel... (none / 0) (#10)
    by Dadler on Sun Aug 10, 2014 at 11:50:13 PM EST
    ...specifically geared toward engaging ISIS online, in a debate, a dialogue, an attempt to creatively and publicly force ISIS to be rational humans on a large scale?

    Why are we, again and again, and inexcusably, more politically unimaginative than I can imagine an orthodox fascist toad being?

    Someone, please, tell my government that putting the truth in front of the world is NOT a bad thing, even if it incriminates us.

    Holy sh*t, we are a so goddamn stupid I can hardly fathom it.

    Someone tell our government that technology and creativity exist. Dear God I Don't Believe In, why the hell can't we be better, can't we understand what better even means.

    Just pitiful.

    Kurds say they need more help to defeat ISIS (none / 0) (#11)
    by Green26 on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 12:31:55 AM EST
    The US is being called on to provide more help.

    "Today the people of Kurdistan and Iraq are threatened by a fanatical and barbaric terrorist organization that wishes to dominate Middle East. We are resolved to defeat this threat with the help of the United States and our friends around the world."

    I believe the US should help. Do you disagree?

    I disagree (none / 0) (#12)
    by MKS on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 02:16:40 AM EST
    that we need to get involved in another ground war.

    To the extent we can assist without ground troops, then maybe.

    But then again I do not view ISIS as the threat  you do.

    Terrorists will seek lowest ground just like water.  Chase them out of Iraq and they will go elsewhere.....

    But you have not responded to any of my posts....So, we do have a difference of opinion that  is insolvable.

    Iran will counter ISIS at some point.....You refuse to acknowledge this strategic issue.  


    I've never suggested a ground war (none / 0) (#14)
    by Green26 on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 09:33:16 AM EST
    A ground war would be a very significant step. Scores of leaders from the US and all over the world don't agree with your view that ISIS is not a threat to the West/US, if left unchecked. Yes, terrorists are a bit like ground water, but the problem gets much bigger and worse if the ground water is allowed to go from pond size to sea size.

    No, I don't believe Iran will counter ISIS at some point. Where's your support for that position. Iran is not even effectively helping Iraq to counter ISIS now, although I believe some support has been provided, probably mostly to defend Baghdad.


    Fear Mongering (none / 0) (#19)
    by MKS on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 07:47:47 PM EST
    Scores of leaders do not agree with me.  Well, are these the same people who were wrong about ivading Iraq in the first place?

    Any threat is indirect.   ISIS has limited ability to project an organized military very far.  In terms of terrorist activity, I fail to see how that risk is increased the more territory in Iraq ISIS controls.

    There is no government in Iraq worth saving.....

    There are reports that Iran has troops in Iraq.  And perhaps ISIS will control the whole country.  But Iran will always be a counter vailing presence as it was in the 1980s.


    Who's talking about saving Iraq? (2.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Green26 on Mon Aug 11, 2014 at 11:30:00 PM EST
    I'm talking about protecting US and Western interests. Much of the world is concerned about ISIS. You need to open your eyes and do some reading.

    Show us your evidence and sources on what Iran is doing to protect Iraq? Show us how Iran is going to counter ISIS. I think you're dreaming, but, if there's evidence, I'd like to see it.


    Open my eyes and do some reading? (none / 0) (#21)
    by MKS on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 12:45:33 AM EST
    What condescending claptrap.....

    Protecting the U.S. against the 20 tanks ISIS has, and that it probably does not know how to operate.

    The risk is always there--to be addressed by counter terrorism efforts....Not alarmist talk from people who always scare themselves into vastly overestimateing and thus not understanding and thus not be able to defeat true terrorism....


    How about this gem (none / 0) (#22)
    by MKS on Tue Aug 12, 2014 at 12:53:11 AM EST
    frome the former commander of NATO:

    Stavridis also said U.S. troops should operate alongside Iranian forces to begin advising Iraqi troops.

    "We've got to operate alongside Iranian forces, if necessary, because the greater threat to the United States is the rise of a caliphate, and one that has already sworn `to fly its flag over the White House' -- that's extremely concerning," he said.

    Stavridis, though, said U.S. troops should not fight alongside Iranian forces, but work to prevent a "cross-fire situation."

    "We're not going to be Iran's allies in this particular case, we have some common interests. We're going to operate in the same battle space," he continued.

    "Therefore, it would behoove us to have at least a minimum of coordination, probably via the Iraqi government and the Iraqi armed forces."

    From an article 11 hours old.

    U.S. troops coordinating with Iranian ground forces in Iraq?????

    Go read more yourself.  There are all kinds of articles about Iranian forces in Iraq.